Northampton Co - I-78 Improvements at Delaware River Bridge
The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission announced that construction activities will begin the week of September 10, 2012, on a paving and improvement project along the agency’s 2.25-mile segment of I-78 in Pennsylvania.
The project’s primary focus will be the portion of I-78 between the Morgan Hill Road interchange and the I-78 Toll Bridge. It will be the first major refurbishing of this I-78 segment since it first opened to traffic in November 1989.
“This is one of the busiest truck corridors in the United States and this work will build upon the investments the agency made in rehabilitating the Commission’s I-78 New Jersey segment three years ago and implementing Express E-ZPass at the I-78 toll plaza two years ago,” said Acting Executive Director Frank J. Tolotta. “It’s our goal to carry out this project while keeping commuter traffic and commercial shipments moving as much as possible.”
To carry out the project’s various construction elements, a series of lane closures and traffic shifts will be utilized. These primarily will involve single-lane closures during daytime hours with an additional travel lane being closed during overnight periods when traffic volumes are lowest. The project staging is to be carried out in a manner that will enable a minimum of two traffic lanes to be operational in each direction during peak travel periods.
The first lane restrictions are expected to go into effect toward the end of the week of September 10 in both the westbound direction (beginning in the vicinity of the I-78 Toll Bridge) and the eastbound direction (beginning in the vicinity of the Morgan Hill Road interchange).
The planned lane closures are subject to change due to weather or other unanticipated construction, emergency or traffic-related considerations. A 45-mph speed limit will be in effect in the project area. Motorists are encouraged to reduce their speeds and use caution when travelling through an active work zone.
The first project work element will be stabilization of the various concrete slabs that make up the road surface in this I-78 highway segment. This work will involve drilling through the concrete slabs and the road’s sub-base, enabling injection of a dual-component grout that will fill voids below the road surface and level out the slabs. The slab stabilization work is a precursor to road surface repaving that will occur later on in the project.
Entitled the I-78 Toll Bridge PA Approach Paving Improvements Project, the undertaking is expected to include the following significant work elements:
• Rehabilitation and repaving of existing concrete pavements in both the eastbound and
westbound directions along the Commission’s Pennsylvania segment of I-78;
• Paving and miscellaneous improvements to the parking facilities for the Pennsylvania
Welcome Center and the Commission’s I-78 maintenance facility that is adjacent to the
agency’s westbound toll plaza in Williams Township, PA;
• Improvements to bridge decks, joints and approach slabs, including the main river I-78
Toll Bridge - which consists of two separate parallel structures -- and 11 secondary
bridge structures (overpasses and underpasses) east and west along I-78; and
• Construction of a rock-anchoring system and concrete retaining wall to mitigate a rockslide
problem along I-78 eastbound in Pennsylvania.
The program cost for the project is estimated to be $17.5 million, a figure that includes concept studies, design work, construction labor, materials, engineering oversights, and all other projectrelated costs. The project is part of the Commission’s capital improvement program, which is ultimately financed through the tolls collected at the agency’s toll bridges.
Construction work is expected to continue uninterrupted over the next eight months with the project scheduled to reach substantial completion on May 15 and total project completion a little more than a month later.
A major timing objective is to complete all construction-related traffic impacts on the I-78 project before any travel restrictions might take effect on a rehabilitation project the Commission is planning to initiate later in 2013 at the Easton-Phillipsburg (Route 22) Toll Bridge. The Commission’s goal is to prevent a regional-traffic-gridlock situation by coordinating when these
two projects will begin and end.
The I-78 project will add to a series of investments the Commission has made to its I-78 facilities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey over the past five years. In 2009, the Commission completed a $49.2 million rehabilitation of its 4.2-mile New Jersey I-78 roadway segment, which stretches east of the I-78 Toll Bridge to the Still Valley Interchange (Exit 3) in New Jersey. In May 2010, the Commission completed another significant project at I-78 – the installation of two Express EZPass/Open Road Tolling lanes that enable E-ZPass-equipped motorists to pay tolls at highway speeds. The open-road-tolling project represented a $10.25 million infrastructure investment at I-78, and has helped to reduce traffic congestion incidents at the toll bridge and plaza. Because the Commission receives no federal or state support, all of these projects are paid for solely through the use of revenues collected at the Commission’s seven toll bridges.
The Commission’s investments in I-78 are enormously important to the regional economy because I-78 is one of the most heavily travelled truck corridors in the United States. In 2011 more than 2.4 million westbound trucks passed across the I-78 Toll Bridge, many originating at the New York-North Jersey ports region, to take cargo to warehouses in the Lehigh Valley, Harrisburg and York, PA and elsewhere. Overall, the Commission’s I-78 segment carried a daily average of 60,100 vehicles a day in 2011.
More information regarding the project may be found in a dedicated web page that has been established in the “Commission Projects” section of the agency’s website – www.drjtbc.org. The Commission has created a simplified URL address – www.drjtbc.org/I-78 -- to help interested parties access the project webpage.
About the Commission
The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission was formed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of New Jersey in 1934. It operates seven toll bridges and 13 tollsupported bridges, two of which are pedestrian-only spans. The Commission is a self-supporting public-service agency that receives neither federal nor state tax dollars to finance its projects or operations. Funding for the operations, maintenance and upkeep of its bridges and related transportation facilities is solely derived from revenues collected at its toll bridges. The Commission’s jurisdiction extends along the Delaware River from the Philadelphia-Bucks County line north to the New Jersey/New York border. The bridges carried more than 137.4 million cars and trucks in 2011. For more information about the Commission and its various initiatives to deliver safer and more convenient travel for its customers, please see: www.drjtbc.org.